AF’s Weblog

April 14, 2010

The Black Eyed Peas: Live Sound on Tour

Filed under: Live Sound — Tags: , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:11 am

Fergie, Will.i.am, Taboo and Apl.de.ap are Off to See the Wizard.

After a few summer festivals, The Black Eyed Peas’ The Energy Never Dies tour began with September shows in Japan and October shows “down under.”

And the Stage is Set

line arrays
A stagehand’s view of one of the Clair i5
and i5b line arrays being flown.
prosoundweb
This feature article is provided by ProSoundWeb

The Peas are riding high from three recent Grammy Awards and the double-barreled success of Boom Boom Pow and I Gotta Feeling, which close the show with obligatory confetti cannons.  The set starts with smoke, green lasers, pop-up appearances and “Let’s Get It Started.”  Ten songs into the set, Apl.de.ap and Taboo have solos, followed by a pop interlude from Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson, and finally, Will.i.am rocks the house with a DJ set played from a platform that rises from mid-arena at the end of the runway, including a free-style rap based on (tour sponsor) Blackberry text messages sent from the crowd scrolled across the ample video screens.  European dates begin in May, with plans to “follow the yellow brick road” to South America and Asia.

amp racks
Donovan Friedman at the racks of Crown
MA-3600VZ and QSC PowerLight 9.0 amplifiers.

At the third U.S. show, I watched Donovan Friedman and Sean Baca fly the stage-right side of the Clair i5 line arrays at Jacksonville’s Veterans Memorial Arena.  The 14-box Clair i5 arrays are powered by Crown Macro-Tech MA- 3600VZ amplifiers, with the companion 14-box i5b low-frequency extension arrays powered by QSC PowerLight 9.0pfc amps. The arena side sections are covered by 8-box i5 and i5b arrays, while the side sections farthest back are reached by 3-box arrays of three-way Clair R4 enclosures.

An ego ramp extends out into the middle of the arena floor. Across the front of the stage on each side of the ramp are 14 dual-18 Clair “Bow Tie” (BT) subwoofers, powered by Powersoft K10 amps. They support P2 frontfills and Showco SRM wedges, all powered by Lab.gruppen PLM10000Q amps.  Four more BT 218 subs are used on each side of the stage, and 6-box arrays of Showco “Blue” Prism enclosures are flown as sidefills, also powered by Crown MA-3600VA amps. Audio services are supplied by Clair Brothers, which had a similar system in the arena four nights earlier for John Mayer.

Early Adopter

FOH
Front of House Engineer Dave Haines (left) and Monitor
Engineer Ryan Cecil with the Digidesign Venue console.

Front of House Engineer Dave Haines has been with the Peas for a dozen years – the group’s entire career – and was instrumental with the recording that originally got them signed to Interscope Records. As a Pro Tools veteran, he was an early adopter of the Avid Digidesign Venue console, and has probably logged more hours on it than any other engineer.  Haines uses the original D-Show Venue control surface with a single 16-fader sidecar. His quiet confidence belies the energy he will unleash on 15,000 fans. There’s remarkably little outboard equipment.

Under the console, a rack holds a TASCAM CD-01U CD player, TASCAM CD-RW901 recorder, plus a pair of Shure DFR11EQs for two channels of feedback suppression used on Fergie’s vocals, which Haines says helps considerably.  Finally, a Dolby Lake processor is set up for eight channels of Mesa EQ for the main system.

plugins
Waves Audio L2 Ultramaximizer and MaxxBass
bass enhancement plug-ins are applied to the
main left-right mix bus.

Beside Haines, a Motion Computing Tablet runs the Lake Controller

software, while a second computer equipped with an Edirol UA-25 USB interface and an Audix TR40 microphone runs Rational Acoustics Smaart.  Backstage, six more Dolby Lake Processors are used for the mains and three more are in the monitor rig.

Assisting Haines is System Engineer and Crew Chief David Moncrief, a touring veteran who previously worked with the tour’s Production Manager Tim Miller on ‘N Sync, which Miller also mixed.  Haines relies heavily on Waves Audio L2 Ultramaximizer limiter and MaxxBass bass enhancement plug-ins, which are both used on the main left-right mix bus.  The L2 is also inserted on the Juno and Moog keyboards, ddrum electronic kick drum, and Will.i.am’s DJ rig.  They were heavily employed on the record, which he strives to accurately reproduce, recreating the album’s dance club vibe in arenas by “pushing the low end and getting the bass in your chest.”

An Antares Auto-Tune plug-in is used shamelessly as a contemporary dance music effect and is Haines’ “go to” compressor, also applied to the main mix to keep it “in the box.” Other plug-ins include EchoFarm and ReverbOne for effects as well as Focusrite’s ISA 110 and 130 from the Forte Suite for Fergie’s vocal, who Haines also mixes when the Peas aren’t touring.  Her presence in the show forces Haines to walk a tightrope between mixing a pop show and a hip-hop concert, at which he succeeds brilliantly. He paraphrases Spinal Tap with the audio department’s motto: “It’s a fine line between thump and mud.”

To read the full detailed article see:  The Black Eyed Peas on Tour

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